Directed by Su Friedrich
In this petulant recent history of Williamsburg, director Friedrich trades smarts for snark. She moved into a loft on North 11th Street, across the street from the Brooklyn Brewery, in 1989 and watched the neighborhood transform from an industrial neighborhood full of artists into yupster central (a shift put into hyperdrive by the 2005 rezoning)—and she's pissed! But her anger has no focus and feels uninformed; instead of, say, looking into how and why the Bloomberg admin-istration worked to pass such legislation, she sticks her camera out her window and films her new neighbors' toy dogs. Instead of asking about how developers and government conspired to reshape working-class neighborhoods, she yells at people in suits or at people carrying shopping bags.
There is some good information here: she maps the 173 new developments she witnessed start through 2010, spreading from McCarren Park into the southside like cancer. And she compiles an A-to-Z catalog of many of the since-shuttered small businesses in the neighborhood: their signage, spaces, workers. But otherwise she just scoffs at every new building, rolls her eyes at every person on the street.
It doesn't help that Gut Renovation is getting its release on the heels of Kelly Anderson's My Brooklyn, which, for an indie documentary released at a small theater in DUMBO, was a local blockbuster. Focusing on Downtown Brooklyn, Anderson's movie proffered cogent, historical explanations for gentrification, its causes and effects, crafting a smart, infuriating diatribe against the people who run our city. Friedrich looks at change in Williamsburg and says it's stupid and she hates it. And so she comes off looking worse than the city—or the yuppies or the suits or the new, ugly condos where cool artists' lofts used to be.
Opens March 6